Sheffield Wednesday: Bullen targets safety repeat

Lee Bullen returns applause from staff and fans after the survival clincher against Norwich in 2008 - the last game of his time as an Owls player

Lee Bullen returns applause from staff and fans after the survival clincher against Norwich in 2008 - the last game of his time as an Owls player

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Lee Bullen is backing the Owls players to make the club safe by beating Middlesbrough at Hillsborough on Saturday.

Bullen is perhaps best remembered for captaining the 2005 team to promotion.

But he also experienced a relegation fight that resembled the current one.

Brian Laws’ outfit spent most of the 2007-08 season in or close to the relegation zone and were 20th going into the final game. They won it, 4-1 against Norwich, and finished 16th - their highest position in five months.

It had been expected that they would escape relegation as the season neared its climax, but it turned out that if they had lost that final game, they would have gone down on goal difference, as Leicester picked up a point in their last match.

Now the Owls are in similar scenario, knowing that victory on Saturday would keep them up, but anything less than that and their fate would hinge on other results.

That 2007-08 campaign was the last as a Wednesday player for Bullen, who of course is back at the club as a coach.

He missed the Norwich game because he was injured but played in the great 3-1 win at Leicester in the penultimate match.

Wednesday had known that two wins in their last two games would keep them up no matter how relegation rivals Leicester, Southampton, Blackpool and Coventry fared.

The Owls finished with 55 points - the same total that they have now - and Leicester (with 52 points), Scunthorpe and Colchester went down.

That Hillsborough finale also attracted the Championship’s biggest attendance of the season, 36,208.

Wednesday’s goals came from Deon Burton, 2, Ben Sahar and Leon Clarke.

A week earlier their stunning victory at Leicester stemmed from strikes by Bartosz Slusarski, Steve Watson and Clarke.

Bullen says: “There are naturally nerves (approaching a relegation decider). But I think players put that out of their minds and picture the result going their way. They don’t go into a game with negative thoughts, especially with the crowd the size it’s going to be on Saturday.

“Last year it was all about going up. It’s so important for the club that we stay up.

“But I genuinely believe that the players will be brilliant on Saturday and will get the right result.

“Another 4-1 would do nicely!”

Wednesday are puzzled by reports that Cardiff are making a £750,000 counter-claim against them as part of a legal battle in which Dave Jones is suing his former club for almost £540,000 in unpaid bonuses and severance money.

The Owls have not received any formal claim against them, and Milan Mandaric said: “When I interviewed Dave, he was free to join any club and I never had any contact with Cardiff.

“Dave was very loyal to Cardiff and did a lot of good things for them; he must be very disappointed with the way he was treated.”